11.22.2011 06:43 AM

In today’s Sun: I Iggy, populist

Last week, Michael Ignatieff was heard from again.

Now that he has returned to the cloistered corridors of academe, we should be getting used to the publication of his occasional essays, one supposes. But it’s still odd — unnerving, even — to turn on one’s computer, and see an Ignatieff think piece flash across the screen. It’s weird.

Ex-party leaders generally follow a well-worn path, you see: They retire to a generous pension, they hang out at a law firm, they get paid scads of money to give speeches which are neither controversial nor newsworthy, and then they write their memoirs. They don’t look like they have anything to prove because, well, they don’t.

Former Liberal Party leader Ignatieff is a notable exception. Since leaving public life — and since taking up a fellowship at the University of Toronto’s Massey College, where he teaches political science — Ignatieff has published essays about politics, and he has maintained contact with many of his supporters from his first run at the Liberal leadership, in 2006.

14 Comments

  1. Cath says:

    Another feather in this guy’s bid for Lib. Leadership?
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/11/21/parliamentarian-of-the-year-bob-rae/

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Works for me…..the last time I heard of the House pausing when a member got up to speak was Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark redux…….

  2. Ted H says:

    Maybe he wasn’t a good politician but he is a respected academic and liberal thinker. He has learned a lot down on the ground in the school of hard knocks so let’s listen once in a while to hear what he has to say. It just may prove enlightening. Both he and Stephane Dion had good ideas that in our political climate never had a chance.

    • HarryR says:

      Wow! Three oxy-morons in the first sentence!

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Bob Rae has the ability to move me with his words. Mr. Ignatieff rarely did. I just hope the man sticks to academia, and lets his successor(s) perform their jobs in peace….I have always respected M. Chretien, M. Dion, and Mr. Martin in this regard. The last thing the Liberal Party needs is Mr. Ignatieff weighing in all the time ala Diefenbaker……

  3. Dan says:

    Seems like he stopped hanging out with the Harvard pro-bank pro-war crowd just one year too late.

    Keep in mind his major contribution to “human rights” was “empire lite” and “the lesser evil”. Yes, defending the Iraq War will earn you some influence and praise during the Bush Era. Torture is just icing on the cake. Here’s your award, Michael.

    His vision for Canada was always U.S. lite. He talked a good game about Harper, but never opposed him on anything substantial. Not foreign policy, and certainly not economic except maybe funding for the Liberal party.

    When they finally called an election, the strategists obviously convinced him he needed to do SOMETHING about his left flank. But he had zero credibility among progressives by that point. The only supporters he still had left were the Liberal die-hards. The ones who keep trying to sell us that this guy was smart, when he got it wrong on the most important foreign policy issue of our lifetime. (At least Harper doesn’t hide the fact that he kisses America’s ass. He gets right in there up to his neck.)

    Bye Iggy.

    • JStanton says:

      I have always been impressed by Mr. Ignatieff as an intellectual. His analysis of ethnic nationalism is significant; his insights are deep.

      But, as with most professional intellectuals his abilities wither when it comes to execution. There are simply too many variables in any socio-political circumstance, and thus professional intellectuals cannot ever get past the stage of analysis, to become men and women of action.

      I don’t think Mr. Ignatieff grasped his inability to be a political leader, until the consequences of his decision to run became self-evident, and then, afterwards, when the consequences of his inability to seize the moment when ripe became more than he could bear.

      It was then that Mr. Ignatieff pulled the trigger, already knowing that his moment was past, and that he was finished in politics.

      I don’t believe that “his vision for Canada was always US-lite”. Mr. Ignatieff’s difficulty was that he had no articulated vision at all. A man who had stood apart as an outsider all of his life could hardly be expected to concoct a “vision” that was relevant to ordinary people.

      This whole exercise, unfortunately, has been principally one of self-realization for Mr. Ignatieff. All of us have been merely the supporting cast. And for our crime of ordinariness, we are sentenced to leadership by the mediocre, our fortunes in the hands of underachievers who can trumpet only simple ideas as a balm for complex problems.

      .

      • Frank says:

        I disagree that his insights were “deep”.

        His insights were the establishment line in whatever powerful country he happened to be working in, dressed up in liberal verbiage. This included supporting Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and then the Bush project in the USA.

        The second phase (“Empire Lite”) was especially problematic for Canada, as Empire Lite meant imposing the US version of how to live on other countries. Why would Canada want someone who believes (or appears to believe) the USA is the hope of the world as leader of our country? Shrewd Canadian leaders pay lip-service to the US Empire, while preserving room to maneuver.

        As for the banks, Iggy was still tracking the establishment line. Now that the debate has shifted in the USA against the banks, Iggy, on cue, changes his tune. Except now, his pontifications are coloured by his noble and world-weary excursion into the trenches of Canadian politics. It is to puke.

        • Dan says:

          It’s hard to figure out what people’s true intentions are. But whether Frank is right or JStanton is right, Michael Ignatieff should have no role in policy in any country, let alone Canada.

          If JStanton is right, he’s simply not smart enough to actually know right from wrong. Or if Frank is right and he had any intelligence at all, it was self-serving, to endear himself to the “very serious people” in the British and American media.

          The fact that anyone wanted him to be Prime Minister is a testament to either low expectations, or the deeply insecure belief that getting a little respect among the U.S. neo-conservative crowd is more important than actually being, you know, smart.

  4. wannabeapiper says:

    As far as I am concerend, Warren K would make a better leader. However his work will never end-to wit………..

    “…The Campbells lost custody of Adolf Hitler Campbell, now 5, and his little sisters JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, now 4, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell (said to be a feminine version of Nazi police commander Heinrich Himmler), now 3, in 2009.

    Heath and Deborah had famously been refused a birthday cake for little Adolf Hitler in 2008 by a supermarket that refused to inscribe the boy’s name on it. They refused Shop-Rite’s offer of a generic birthday cake ……”.

  5. david says:

    Also, student line-up to get into his lecture. Student s stope and listen to when he speeks. How ofton does tha thappen to Harper.

  6. Riaz Khan says:

    Iggy, like any other individual living in a liberal democratic country, has a right to speak his mind. He is no longer the leader or MP or whatever. The focus should not be on Iggy. The focus and discussion should be directed to Mr. Harper, his government and his policies and I dont need to tell you- there is a lot to talk and discuss regarding Mr. Harper and his government. Iggy had his share of focus and attention. I am very happy for him as he engages young minds to discuss important issues facing the World.

  7. Woody says:

    Preston Manning too, don’t forget. Or Stock Day of course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*